King shoots, misses
State Rep. Steve King said he strives to avoid “ethical dilemmas, those questions from the public that you’re running legislation just to put food on your table or make your business grow.”
If avoiding that perception was the target, King’s aim was poor.
As The Daily Sentinel’s Mike Saccone reported Monday, King’s company, American National Protective Services Inc., is completing a security audit of Mesa State College under a contract approved last summer.
At the same time, legislation is being drafted that King plans to introduce at the Capitol in the coming legislative session. It would expand a mandate that all public school districts in the state develop plans to deal with school shootings and other crises. The new legislation would include colleges in the mandate. And it would require schools and colleges hold drills for their safety procedures.
And who better to help schools develop those plans than a firm such as King’s?
King’s company is not the only one in Colorado that could perform such work. There are others that advertise their expertise in this arena. But carrying a bill that directly benefits the industry in which you work is not the best way to quell public concern that you’re pushing legislation to benefit your own business.
Furthermore, King was a cosponsor of legislation this year that, among other things, requires all school districts in the state to assess their security plans by next July. The fact that King declined to answer questions about whether his firm has performed security audits for any school districts involved in that work only raises more questions about the confluence of King’s business and legislation he supports.
We don’t know whether King’s company was the most ideal one to perform a security audit for Mesa State College. But because the contract was less than $25,000, the college wasn’t required to go through competitive bidding for it. Also, college officials said they knew of no other firms in this region that could perform the sort of work they sought.
But we do know that there is a clear appearance of conflict of interest in the connection between King’s business and his legislation. He should rethink the legislation he plans to carry in the coming session and be more forthcoming about the public-education contracts his firm has already received.